Coming into this series, a sweep was expected. No one cared that Tigers were winners of five of their last six and coming off a blowout over arch rival kansas, the No. 1 Volunteers were supposed to roll the middle of the pack Tigers, however that didn’t happen. Missouri gave Tennessee all they could handle in every game of the series, but when push came to shove, the Volunteers powerful lineup and elite bullpen overcame the upstart Tigers.
Things could not have gotten off to a better start for Missouri in the series when Luke Mann took Chase Burns deep in the first inning to drive in Trevor Austin and himself, however, that success was short lived. In each of the first four innings, the Tigers had a runner reach scoring position, but they never capitalized leaving seven runners on base. While the Tigers failed to take their chances, a Tennessee breakthrough began to feel inevitable with their talent level, and it finally came in the later innings.
In the sixth, Trey Lipscomb gave Spencer Miles the only blemish on his otherwise flawless five inning start, and cut the Missouri lead in half, but the Tigers weren’t going to give in easily. A Trevor Austin single scored Josh Day thanks to an incredible slide at the plate to make the Tiger lead 3-1. Unfortunately for the Tigers, that play seemed like their final punch before running out of gas as Tennesse scored seven runs in the two innings including a 3-run Evan Russell HR on their way to an 8-3 victory.
Here’s Day’s impressive slide from the sixth:
In what seemed almost like deja vu from Friday night, the Tigers held an early lead on Saturday, and let the game slip away in the final three innings once again. In the first, Luke Mann left the yard again, but this time, Torin Montgomery followed him up with a home run of his own to once again put the Tigers up 2-0. However, the Tigers could only momentarily enjoy that lead because in the second, Tennessee hit three solo bombs of their own including another one from Trey Lipscomb and Evan Russell.
Despite surrendering the lead, the Tigers once again didn’t back down and immediately responded with two runs in the third thanks to a sac-fly from Montgomery and and RBI-Double from Fox Leum that narrowly missed out on being a home run. With the lead intact, Tony Neubeck settled in for a couple of innings, but in the sixth, Tennessee broke it open. Austin Cheeley came in to pitch in relief and Jordan Beck made him pay with a grand slam. Now leading 7-4, Tennessee began to run away with this one before finishing off the Tigers by a score of 11-4.
Here’s Leum’s go-ahead RBI-Double:
In the series finale, the roles reversed from Games 1 and 2 as Tennessee built the early lead, and Missouri attempted to make the furious late inning comeback. Unfortunately for the Tigers, their comeback came up just one hit short.
Two Luke Lipcius HR gave Tennessee a 3-0 lead, and in the fifth they added a fourth run for insurance, and things began to look bleak for Missouri with the depth of the Tennessee bullpen, but the Tigers chipped away slowly. In the seventh, Nander De Sedas knocked in a run with an RBI-Double that also almost snuck over the fence, and a fielder’s choice allowed Josh Day to drive in Ty Wilmsmeyer and cut the Tennessee to just 4-2.
In the eighth, the Tigers threatened with a runner in scoring position, but weren’t able to bring anything to fruition, nevertheless they came to play in the ninth. A Ross Lovich base knock and Ty Wilmsmeyer bunt single put a couple Tiger runners on with no one out. Nander De Sedas did his job and moved both guys to scoring position before a sac-fly from Josh Day made the lead 4-3, and it all came down to Trevor Austin with a runner on third withtwo outs. Fitting with the theme of the series, Austin was unable to plate the runner and the Tigers fell 4-3.
Standout Performer of the Weekend
Luke Mann: Last week Mann was spectacular, he just wasn’t quite as good as Fox Leum. However, this week, he continued his hot hitting and he earned this title. Mann was 4-11 in the series including two big homers, and he punished baseballs. Mann had been having a rough season up until the last two weeks, but he’s really settled in as a reliable 3-hole for the Tigers and has become one of the most reliable offensive threats in Missouri’s lineup. If the Tigers are going to make a push for the postseason, they’ll need Mann to continue this hot stretch he’s on.